The European Commission has adopted a communication (COM(2017) 9 final) and (SWD(2017) 2 final) and staff working document on building the European data economy (the "Communication"). The documents set out the Commission's proposed policy and legal solutions to "unleash" (in the words of the Commission) its Digital Market Strategy.

In the Communication the Commission proposes to address the unjustified restrictions to the free movement of data across borders and to clarify certain legal uncertainties. These restrictions and uncertainties typically arise at a local level in certain countries, and the Commission is keen to discuss the issue with Member States to facilitate the use of data in the EU.

The Commission has launched a related public consultation on the legal uncertainties in the digital economy and seeks views on possible policy and legal responses regarding:

  • data access and transfer;

  • liability related to data-based products and services. The current EU liability rules are not adapted to today's digital, data-driven products and services; and

  • data portability. Portability of non-personal data is currently complicated, for example, when a business wants to move large amounts of company data from one cloud service provider to another.

The consultation will run until 26 April 2017, and the responses will feed into the Commission's future initiatives on the data economy in 2017.

Organisations should continue to monitor the Commission's Digital Market Strategy as its proposals become more concrete. The strategy will have consequences for a data driven business and the proposal in this Communication to facilitate data transfer (subject to compliance with the GDPR) may be of benefit to future data projects.

You can access the Communication and the Staff Working Document here.